Plant Variation and Evolution Author:D. Briggs and S. M. Walters Botanists have always been interested in the fact that no two plants look exactly alike, and that natural populations whow intricate patterns of variation. Such differences enabled European scientists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to classify idfferent "kinds" into a hierarchy of family, genus and species. BUt useful as these early ... more »classificiations were, they were based on the ridid belief that variation was static- that after a plant appeared on the earth it remained exactly the same ever after. Darwin's theory of evolution changed all this: species became populations varying in time and space and variation had to be considered as part of the complex and continuous process of evolution.
After describing the historical background of plant variation studies, this book shows the remarkable insight that work on living plants has given us into the processes of plant evolution. It also emphasizes that there are still gaps in our knowledge and that many of our ideas are tenative. The authors describe how necessary it is in modern studies of plant evolution and variation to bring together many branches of science, as well as to make use of sophisti cated technical equipment. Nevertheless, as the last chapter shows, the student or amateur naturalist can, by means fo simple observation and experiment, verify for himself many of the underlying causes of variation in his local plants.« less